Here we go with a few things. First off, I am moving through a rush of things. My daughter is the junior class princess for her school’s homecoming. It’s a big deal around the family since it has never happened for anyone else in the family. So all sorts of parental stuff in the rush to get ready and then the game itself. I’m driving a new truck in the parade (this should be fun).
So in light of that and in the thoughts that I would normally do a food or wine post on a Friday night I have a piece that is going to be a bit odd. It is an older piece, but it has not been anywhere else before.
What you are about to read is the original opening of the title story of the anthology Hate Candy. The mood of this piece didn’t fit with the mood of the book or the finished story at all, so it was cut. But even so this is a fun light hearted piece that is perfect for the Halloween celebrations. (Note: When I say light hearted, you realize I am referring to dark and gruesome humor right? right?)
A Special Vintage
And then the screaming started. The blood that followed lost that happy quality that he most enjoyed. Simon had a taste for happy blood. Something about terror changed the flavor profile.
Maybe it was the adrenaline? What did it matter really? He could debate the nuances of flavor from a fresh kill till he was blue in the face. Vergil called him a snob.but he disagreed. He preferred to consider himself eclectic.
But still, this left him with a fool woman who refused to stop screaming. He snapped her neck. At least that would shut her up. He drug the nail of his index finger across her throat and caught the last drips of her blood in a silver chalice.
Maybe he was a snob. Who else would bring a silver chalice to a slaughter. Well, drinking from the host was a bit passé.
He swirled the liquid and then sniffed the bouquet with a long lingering sniff. He lowered the chalice with a sneer. “Tainted,” he said. “This always happens when you become over anxious.” He passed the chalice to his companion.
She held it to her nose giving it a light sniff. “I don’t smell it.”
“You are young,” he said. “Your palette will refine with time. Take a sip.”
“Do you think I should?” She giggled.
“This is how you learn. Here, let me show you.” He took back the chalice. He rolled a small sip around on his tongue, then held it on the center of his tongue while he brought air through his mouth over it. The aroma wafted into his nasal passages. “Try it like that. The flavors will come alive for you.”
She sipped from the chalice then mimicked his actions to the best of her abilities. She shrugged after she swallowed her taste. “I don’t really think I’m getting it.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “It takes time to know and understand the real beauty of the flavors.”
“Ok. You really think I can learn this?”
“Absolutely, it just takes practice,” he said. “As you perfect your technique you will really see the difference in the finished product.” His prominent eye teeth showed when he smiled at her. He perfected this innocent look years ago. It was a pride of his arsenal. “Finish the chalice. It may not be the best but I would hate for it to go to waste.”
She drank from the chalice practicing the technique he showed her.
He rang the silver bell from the left corner of the desk. Within a few moments a large man stood at the doorway. He said nothing as he stood at the ready, waiting for a command. “Clean this up if you would please,” Simon said. “Oh, and save the juice. I would hate for it to go to waste.” He stepped out of the way of the body.
“How long ago did you change?” She asked. They sat on the back porch, in the moon’s soft glow.
“I have always enjoyed the finer things,” Simon said. “There is little sense in spending time doing things we don’t enjoy.” Rufus his butler placed an opened wine bottle on the table beside them. Is this the ’08?”
Rufus nodded. He poured a small amount in a crystal goblet and set it in front of Simon. Simon swirled it in the glass then took a small sip. “Yes, perfect.” He returned the glass to Rufus who then filled it. “This is what I spoke of earlier. Only a touch cooler than body temperature. It brings out the subtle nuances.”
She took the glass Rufus offered her. “I meant the change, you know, the big one.” She sipped from the glass. “That is amazing. It is an ’08? How is that possible?”
“I have perfected a technique of fermentation that allows the must to age for several years.” He leaned toward her. “Fresh is not always the best.”
“I am sorry,” he said. “I have been distracted and avoided your question. This tends to happen when I have the chance to enjoy a good vintage.”
She smiled. “It is quite alright. I am enjoying the lesson,” she said. “I have never had the opportunity to taste something this sublime before.”
He stood up and walked to the edge of the porch. “There was a time I might have said the same thing. That was a dark time in history for me,” he said. “It was more than the petty wars. I did not really care about much of anything.”
“Was this when you were young?”
“You could say that. It was in my first century. I spent much of my time searching for sensations instead of meaning.”
“What does that mean?”
“The screams, at one time the screams would have been what made it all worth while. Life was different then. More?” He held the bottle up motioning toward her glass.
“You spoil me,” she said.
“I was young and foolish once,” he said. “Maybe not the best of my days but part of my growing process. We all must go through the stages that this life challenges us with.”
“So you seduced her and bled her dry?”
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say I seduced her. She desired something, something more than what her life offered her. I gave her that and more. In the end I was merely reaping the harvest of my labors.”
“I was a ravenous machine then. I devoured so much, more than just that girl.” He came back to the table and drank from his glass. “This went on for ages. You could say that I had not regained my civility, my humanity until I found you.”
“How was it that I changed you?”
“Do not think so highly of yourself. The change was underway before I took you. It was my desire to be different that spared your soul.”
“And yet I am condemned to live as you for eternity.”
“Hence why we enjoy vintage ju.”